I found a unicorn!

There was a unicorn abandoned at the bank:

I think I know why this little unicorn was hanging around financial institutions late at night:
That's right, she's got a tramp stamp.

Someone else has a tramp stamp, too. I got a stuffed dinosaur for Christmas:
And she has this tattooed on her butt:
Unlock the fun, indeed.
This is a concerning epidemic, people. Even our toys are being sexualized at a younger and younger age.
The little tramps.

I'm gonna keep the unicorn in my coat pocket so I will have a unicorn in my pocket wherever I go. Even if she is a little club girl.

Feministing has pissed me off

AURGH sometimes that site just gets on my nerves.

For the uninitiated, Feministing is a community blog for feminist causes - they report on gender-related news events, laws, have interviews with feminists, promote conferences, and have other opinion pieces. I value them for information about gender rights and equality, but sometimes they just irk me.

Today was one of those times. It was this article in particular: Public internet shaming and sexism.

Do you remember Kenny Glenn? He was a stupid teenager who posted a video of himself throwing a cat against a wall onto Youtube. A horde of angry internet vigilantes (mostly from 4chan) found it and got extraordinarily pissed - as the saying goes, you do not mess with the Internet's cats. They found out his name, address, school, family - anything and everything they could get their hands on - reported him to local police and generally just ruined his life. Kenny Glenn is now infamous, and I suspect he will have a difficult life ahead of him.

Well, this shit goes down all the time - Glenn is just one of the more notable examples of internet vigilantism. And, as the other saying goes, history repeats. And it occasionally contains cats.
Basically, it happened again. Except this time it was a video of a woman throwing a cat into a garbage can. The owner of the cat posted the video hoping to find the woman responsible for harming their pet. Well, they found her. One Mary Bale, identified by the masses, came under incredible scrutiny and criticism and will probably also have her life ruined because of it. Seriously, you do not mess with the Internet's cats.

This is where Feministing comes in. Feministing posted their article, and here's the bit that got me pissed:


Lookit, guys!!!

Hehe. :3

This is my Christmas post


Okay, so Christmas is over. Here's a choppy recap of what happened and what's gonna happen.

I had a birthday party. Yea, it's my birthday on the 23rd, so I went home and had supper at my grandmother's house with a bunch of family. This "family" happened to include my mom's boyfriend, his two sons, and one of the sons' french girlfriend. Okay, so there were strangers at my birthday party, and that was a little weird, but they were friendly... and I enjoyed listening to my aunt pull out a razor sharp wit I have never seen before and mercilessly tease mother's boyfriend.


We had a ham sitting on the stove, waiting for the rest of the food to be done before cutting it. Everyone was busy with other things and the ham was sitting alone without a single soul within ten feet of it. The ham apparently decided it didn't like not being the center of attention and, in a fit of melodrama, threw itself onto the floor. Luckily, it didn't break its dish and only managed to make a sad smear on the floor.

"It's okay," assured my grandmother, "I just washed the floor today!"
We still washed the ham before eating it.


I realized my sense of humour makes others uncomfortable. Mom was complaining that she'll wake up in the morning to find her cat sleeping on her pillow, in her face.
Me: "You know why that is?"
Mom: "No, why?"
Me, with a completely deadpan delivery, "Because they're stealing your breath."

What followed was the most silent, shocked thirty seconds I have ever experienced. I could only take a maximum of thirty seconds of everyone staring at me in shock and fear before I burst out laughing. Once they realized I was joking and not, in fact, a raging lunatic, they all joined in.

Christmas Eve Mass

I went to Christmas Eve Mass for the first time in... at least two years, possibly more. I haven't been to church in at least a year, possibly more. I only go when I visit my mother and she makes me go, but even the last few visits I haven't had to attend (more on that later).

It's been a long enough time that I haven't had a chance to attend an actual sermon and mass as a fully fledged, curious atheist. The few times I've gone, I was helping in the nursery and so did not attend the main service. My history of attending services is quite patchy - between switching demoniations from Anglican to Baptist when I was a teenager and simply not attending church at all since, I didn't get much experience with Anglican ceremonies. This year my boyfriend and I are visiting my mother and family so we went to an Anglican service, with a new reverend who I've never met before.

Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my, is it ever strange to see a church service through a more atheist lens.

Something amazing happened today...

That's right.
The Milky Way manifested on our ceiling.
It's too bad I can't get a good picture. I guess you'll just have to come visit instead. ;)
[The planets' placements are roughly to scale, even if the planets themselves aren't]

By the way, I seriously love the name of our home galaxy. It's so sweet and unassuming. Sol, Terra and Luna are also quite enjoyable - so simple. I mean, there's nothing particularly epic or interesting about our chosen names, but considering we have to work with thousands of years of uninformed tradition, such as the belief that the sun and stars are different types of entities, I think it turned out nicely.

My Children's book wishlist

There are three "children's books" I really, really want to own. Grown up books almsot never have cute stories or beautiful illustrations, something I think needs to be rectified, but that's a topic for another day.

"One Wintry Night"
Ruth Bell Graham

I had this book as a child, and while it is heavily Christian (it tells the Christian Christmas story, starting with Adam & Eve) the illustrations were stunning. Absolutely fabulous. I used to sit for hours staring at the pictures, soaking in every minute detail (each illustration has a pill bug hidden in it!). I actually wrote the author (Billy Grahams wife) a letter asking about the illustrations, and she told me they took her years to complete and were done in egg tempera.
You can see a few of the full page illustrations in this blog post, but they aren't large enough to get the full beauty.

"The Little Prince" deluxe pop up edition
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The piccolo effect

Today something rather silly happened to me. A fellow messaged me on OKCupid. His profile contained the line, "I am afraid of plains." In a fit of whimsy, assuming that he had fallen victim to a rather common misspelling, I replied,
Is it the flatness or the large amounts of grass that gets you? ;)
I soon received the reply,
Please tell me, is that flatness and grass a quote? You're not the first to say that.
And that shamed me. The reason it shamed me is because of (what I have dubbed) "the piccolo effect". It is a rather queer phenomenon that I suspect we have all witnessed or unwittingly been a part of. My attention was first drawn to it some time ago when I stumbled upon a blog post from a musician. This musician played, I seem to recall, a saxophone, and took their instrument on the bus on a regular basis. Inevitably during their ride, a stranger who observed the musician struggling with the large case would comment, "Bet you wish you played the piccolo, eh? Haha." At some point the author had had enough of it and wrote a rather scathing post about how people who think they are making witty or clever remarks are rarely doing so, and it's better to just keep your mouth shut.

The most remarkable thing about this is that people who play a large instrument are asked the "piccolo question" an alarming number of times - cellists have particular trouble with it. It seems to happen in all geographic locations (although sometimes piccolo is replaced with flute or tin whistle) and be said by a large variety of people, each thinking they are making a smart remark. A Google search of relevant keywords turns up forums of people complaining of these piccolo remarks, and even a Facebook group.

When I was a teenager and my younger sister was in her baby and toddler years, people would invariably comment to my mother, "Oh, you have a built-in babysitter!". This was particularly strange because everyone who made a comment to that effect said the exact same words: built-in babysitter. If I had to guess how many times I heard that comment, it would be in the hundreds.

I think this is something which more people need to be made aware. It falls under the sarcastic, "Oh, I haven't heard that one before," but I think people don't realize how out of control it really is. There's a difference between someone cracking an obvious pun and someone making more of a creative leap in their remarks, and yet it seems that even the latter is subject to the whims of the collective (sub?)conscious. I would be interested in seeing what the equivalent of the "piccolo question" is for other hobbies and professions, so that I could do my best to avoid falling prey to the piccolo effect again.

I'm still kicking myself for it.

A doodle gift!

Here's an awesome doodle that was done for me (For me!) by random internet stranger Biohazard of My Confusion Theory, who I totally love, BTW.

It's a cocktopus, you see! And I'll leave you to consider why I absolutely adore that name. Biohazard made doodles for all her followers, but of course mine is the best.
Of course.

A silly analogy about face veils

One of the arguments in favor of face-coverings (usually worn by muslim women) is that it is a response to the inherent sexism and obsession with appearance in most societies. By covering their face and body, it forces others - primarily men, of course - to consider them not as a woman who looks a certain way, but as an individual with ideas and value beyond what they look like. This is backed with evidence from studies which reveal that more attractive people are generally treated better.

In those strange, groggy moments of first awakening, when you're half asleep and half awake, I came up with an analogy to demonstrate why this is an inappropriate response.

Say you have a cat. Occasionally cats have accidents - maybe the cat was sick, got a bladder infection. Maybe the cat was just pissed off that you won't give it extra wet food and it peed on your favorite rug out of spite. Whatever. You have a cat, and your cat has just pissed on your expensive rug.

What do you do? Something out of your control happened that negatively impacted you. Say your response is to scold the cat and put a towel over the pee-spot and light some incense. Your thought process is, "now no one knows that a cat pissed on the rug because you covered it up." But the problem is - the cat piss is still there. People can smell it and they wonder why there's a towel on your floor that no one is allowed to move. When someone moves the towel to see what's there and nearly faints from the stench of festering cat pee, you tell them they shouldn't have moved the towel. That moving the towel was out of line and its their fault they got a noseful of putrid urine.

But your friends now start to think you're more than a bit crazy. They can tell the problem is getting worse, despite your efforts to cover up the pee. It's soaked through to the floor now, and has permanently stained your carpet. Your home now reeks of incense and cat urine. Your cat is attracted to the place it peed the first time, so it starts habitually peeing on your rug. That's what cats do. Now you have several spots of pee, all covered with towels, all reeking and staining your rug. There is no way you can clean any of it up now. You decide to sell the cat, finally, in the hopes that the problem doesn't get any worse.

Your friends start to think that it's your fault the problem has gotten worse. They've all had cats, you see. They know that sometimes, cats pee on rugs. But when their cats pee on rugs, they do their best to clean it up. They get down with a scrub brush and as many chemicals and natural fixes they can get their hands on. They recruit others to help them, to give advice or lend a hand. They neutralize the ammonia, scrub every fiber of the carpet, keep working until all the pee is gone. It doesn't always work - sometimes a stain or slight smell is left - but their efforts clearly improved the situation. They didn't have to forcefully get rid of their cat or let the problem get worse. They confronted it, and took care of it.

Let's run back and identify the things here, shall we?

Your cat is the concept of beauty and individuality. It's a good thing, most of the time. Sometimes it leads to bad things - such as an individual woman being treated differently because of how she looks. This kind of sexism or special treatment is the cat piss. It happens to almost everyone and to every culture. But the response is not to take this problem and cover it up - because in the end, that makes it worse. We can see in many muslim countries that the women become slaves to modesty. They can't "clean up the cat piss" even if they wanted to. They throw away the concepts of individuality and beauty in the hopes that their problem doesn't get any worse. The burden of how they are treated is now on their shoulders, instead of on the shoulders of the sexist men.

The correct way is to fight it - through legislation, through media, through challenging the social norms. We fight the idea that someone is only worth something if they look a certain way. We don't try to cover them up to hide how they look, but instead challenge the root idea that appearance matters. This way, when something happens and someone is treated badly, the burden isn't on them - people can't say "well she should have been wearing her veil." We place the burden on the perpetrator.

And that is how burqas are like towels over cat piss.

Christmas tree

Trying to capture what the human eye sees on a camera is quite difficult, but I tried to adjust the colors properly.

This year instead of the usual rainbow barf, we decided on a more coherent color theme for our tree: blue and white, with purple accents. I am very pleased with how it turned out, and it's only a shame that we got it up late (usually we put up Christmas decorations a few days after taking down the Halloween ones, hehe)

My favorite ornaments are definitely the Victorian Tinsel (actual metal strips) and the little sequin birds.

Black lights in CSI-type shows

Blacklight BodypaintingWe've all seen it at least once. The CSI crew are at the scene of a crime, looking for evidence. They turn off the lights and awesome techno music starts to play. Out comes the gloves, goggles and black lights. They proceed to sweep the lights over the entire room until - There! - a telling blood splatter appears on the wall or bedsheets. The crime then becomes solved, thanks to the discovery. I've even seen them go so far as to find bodily-fluid stains on washed laundry, and showing through freshly-painted walls.

On a less dramatic note, there was once a blind dating/matchmaking show where one person got to pick out of three contestants which they would go on a date with, based on several criteria. One was that they got to snoop around their potential date's bedroom to try to deduce something about their personality. Part of this snooping included a black light test. None of the episodes I watched revealed anything interesting under the black lights, but many contestants got nervous at the prospect.

The last area I tend to see the use of black lights is in hyperbolic stories about dirty hotel rooms - taking a black light to hotel bedsheets reveal several disturbing stains in this segment, for example.

And its all made me wonder. Do all bodily fluids glow under UV lights? Can you wash these stains away? And what would the average person's bathroom or bedroom look like under UV lights?

My Wishlist

Haven't been posting much because Finals are upon me. I don't finish until Saturday at about 10 PM. But by then I am finally free! And I will celebrate by seeing Tron!

This is this year's wishlist for Christmas and my birthday. We've already gotten a new couch from my family for Christmas, but still have to give T's mother a wishlist. She goes nuts for Christmas.

Logitech backlit wireless keyboard (k800) & mouse

This is a sexy, slim keyboard that will be a huge improvement against my old non-slim one. I really need a new keyboard because the thick keys are getting on my nerves. And I haven't decided on a mouse yet, but I really need one a gaming mouse. Problem is, a mouse isn't the kind of thing I want to buy without touching first...
($99 - Futureshop [price more or less the same everywhere]; Mice ~$70)

Interactive tabs in pure CSS

A dear friend read my last post about my javascript navigation tabs, and commented that he'd like to see a method where it was easier to add new links and change existing ones. That gave me pause, because I hadn't been able to think of a way to implement a light-weight solution that would accomplish both the look I wanted and flexibility. After a bit more exploration it suddenly struck me - could I possibly implement my tabbed navigation in pure CSS?

I absolutely love CSS. It is extremely powerful and flexible, and the only thing that's annoying about it is that each browser has their own rendering quirks you have to keep in mind. (Getting a CSS layout to work in Internet Explorer is a task for only the brave of heart) There are plenty of properties you can combine in neat ways to get a cool effect, as seen in my blur spoiler tags.

So, I immediately got to work on a proof of concept. And after an hour or so, it worked. It actually worked. I polished it up this morning and will now be using CSS tabs instead of the image/javascript ones I used before.

The great thing about this version is it is so customizable; no mucking about with images and pixel offsets! Anyone can change the border type or colors or font to suit their needs.


Here's my CSS:

Javascript Hover tabs

UPDATE: See my pure CSS verison here. I no longer use this version.

So I just realized, mostly due to an email I received, that I never posted how my tabbed navigation works. It's pretty simple but I'm proud of it because I did it all myself (okay, I had a bit of help from a friend since it was my first time using JS. :P )

When there's no mouse hovering over the tabs, it looks like this:

And when "About" is hovered over, it changes to look like this:

The key to the tabs is that each state is one big image, but only a portion of the image is shown at a time. This is a common CSS trick for interactive layouts. Such an image often called a CSS sprite (good read, I recommend it). It keeps things from lagging as the browser constantly fetches new images from the server; in this method the browser need only fetch one image one time.

City of Heroes costume shots

City of Heroes is a comicbook based, pay-to-play MMORPG that is really great for casual gamers. There isn't a race to level cap, like in other MMOs, because the journey is just as fun as the end. They've made a giant effort to make it fun to play: you don't have hours of travel time, hours of grinding Giant Rats, and with only a few exceptions, any character you roll will be capable. That's why I keep returning - because I can pop in and make progress, even if I only play for a few weeks.

The shining glory of the game is, however, its customization. Since it is based on a comic book universe, appearance is very important and nearly every person I meet in game looks unique. With the exception of some Task-Force or event-related costume items, capes (unlocked at level 20) and auras (unlocked at level 30), all costume parts are available from level 1. You don't have to play for months before you can look good - you just need some creativity. They've been putting out 'Booster Packs' lately, which are about $10 and give you more costumes, powers, emotes and occasionally a few other things like the ability to change gender. And one of the most recent issue updates allowed players to change the color and animations of their powers.

I've been subscribed to City of Heroes on and off for... god, over five years? I have about three years of subscription time. I didn't start in beta, but when I started playing they were only about four issue updates (they just launched Issue 19). This game is older than World of Warcraft and I've been playing it since 2004.

I wanted to share some of my (extremely varied) characters. The customization is both a blessing and a curse: it's fun to try all sorts of combinations and playstyles, but it's hard to stick to just one character.

Hudda Hudda
[Lowbie Fire/Axe Tank]

WAYWT | Milkmaid

I did my hair different today! I read a tutorial from Violet LeBeaux that looked adorable. I've always been a sucker for braids, and especially milkmaid/greek goddess braids. My hair is finally long enough that I can start doing neat updos so I figured I'd start with something easy.

Now, my hair was still a bit too short, so the top where the two braids meet was still a little messy. But I said to myself, "Screw it, no ones cares" and I suspect that's the most truthful thing I've ever told myself. I think everyone should be a milkmaid today.

In other news, I saw all the elementary kids on the playground in their snowsuits today. Do you remember that? Having to get bundled up in a bulky snow-proof suit to go outside and play? Man, I haven't thought about those since like, grade 5. I feel so old.

We got a nice storm over the weekend, maybe fifteen centimeters of snow. Of course it had to rain today and completely ruin it. I wore a wool coat I got at a thrift store and I smelled like wet sheep all day. At least, I assume that's what wet sheep smells like. I have a hat made out of dog hair (it was a gift, okay?) and it smells like wet dog when it gets rained or snowed on. So I could wear them together and smell like a wet farm. The whole thing would be complete if I could get some real leather, and maybe step in pig poop for good measure.

Odin ears

Can't not share adorable mouse pictures. I don't use the flash because I don't want to blind the little thing, so don't mind the bad lighting. She's such an easy thing to please - a pinch of table scraps, some tissue, a wheel... she also goes nuts for hay. She eats half of it and puts the rest in her nest.

And her ears are so big!

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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."